Posted in Professional Practice

Role of a Photographer

What models of working exist for the photographer in the 21st Century? Consider how or whether the model Marcus described might be sustainable. State what the risks are of working in this way and what are the benefits. Consider whether there are there any other models of working?

There is a looming question over the status of a photographer – are you an artist or a photographer? You could argue that being a photographer is knowing how to control the camera and other technological aspects of photography making you more professional. Some say that just taking a picture just makes you an artist. Combine the two and you are “talented”. But is photography something taught or is a photographer naturally gifted with the “seeing eye”? Essentially you can learn something from every stage of your career.

Some examples of working models in photography include curation, make-up and hair artists, retouchers, stylists, agents and many other job roles within the business.

Being a photographer comes with risks. Your work can be inconsistent so your income is a lot steadier than most other jobs so it’s not best to rely on it as a sole job. It can block ideas if working to a brief by a client and restrict you from working freely and creatively. Working with or for other people can also cause you to lose control of your work.

Along with the risks there are always benefits. When you do get a job or do some of your own work it can be rewarding, financially and psychologically – it is always satisfying doing something that you are passionate about. It can give you pride and allow you to inspire others. Your work can grow your name and reputation and help you to realise yourself.

Give an essentialist and materialist definition of artist and/or photographer and consider how these operate in society.

An essentialist photographer/artist is someone who is naturally good at what they do. They have an eye in society and their work is like a quality to that individual. It is something that can’t be learnt. Arguably, a more artistic, deep thinking approach.

A materialist approach is essentially the opposite. It’s more of a job, getting paid to do the work. It is an operational job which is trained, doable and knowable to the people learning it. This is more associated with the commercial side of photography and art.

What is your class position as an artist/photographer and what is the place of your practice with the broader socio-political setting? What level of privilege do you enjoy as student in the 5th richest country in the world? Does this alter the kinds of work you produce or how you consider you should earn an income?

Being a photographer is largely controlled by society and the ways of culture. Take students in the UK for example. We are lucky to be able to go into education, especially as it is free to us, unlike poorer countries that are unable to take part in such luxuries, restricting their opportunities to get into professional, high paid jobs, maybe the reason why they have higher rates of poverty.

Students in the UK don’t get taxed but their place in society is not ideal. Their thoughts and opinions are often muted and when trying for university they are challenged with forever rising loans and debts. Part time jobs might change their position in society but largely students struggle to earn a steady income due to their loans. During their time in education they have access to a variety resources until they graduate, leaving them to pay for resources they require.

People argue that students bare “not much contribution to society” and go unappreciated because their skills are “not up to standards” but this is usually the motive for them to go further into education which should be considered as giving them a chance to expand and improve themselves. This can open to higher opportunities allowing more sophisticated work. Largely however, students in the UK are very lucky to be able to be creative and learn to provide a more sustainable future for themselves compared to poorer countries.


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